Monday, March 30, 2009


I really like my friend Josh. I sit down to lunch with him and in the course of conversation with him, lay out one of my laboriously worded emotional tensions that I find myself living in these days. Actually, it was specifically this one. My girlfriends sympathize with me and ask me questions to get more nuanced understandings. Then, they tell stories about when something like happened to them. My fiance respects what I have to say and tells me how it makes him feel and works with me to figure out how we can both feel good about the situation in the future. My little brother laughs at me but then challenges me to be certain that I am taking responsibility for any part I may have in the complication.

Josh is sensitive, funny and knows A LOT about me. He's really smart and tells stories in the same style that I do but much much better.

He looks at me and says, quite literally, "Meh."

It's good to get perspective on things.

Because of course he's right. It's probably good and necessary to identify this swill of emotions inside of me as I go through this part of my journey. It gives the ecthroi less power over me if I can name them.

But then you have to move on. There's other stuff that needs to be thought about and to be done. There's a hungry world out there that needs to be fed and children that need their educational system fixed for them. There's other misfit toys at church that need to be welcomed and known.

I'm going to be married to Jacob. Slogging through the mire is just what needs to be done to get there.

Meh, indeed.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


To be honest, it's a little embarrassing to be getting married again.

Actually, to be more specific, it's embarrassing to invite people to another big, formal wedding.

It feels like I'm saying in essence, "Right. So, I know I fucked up before but could we all just pretend that didn't happen and just try that again?"

It's embarrassing.

Won't people resent having to give me a second wedding gift?

Won't people look at me with a little smirk in their eyes?

I won't blame them if they do.

How could anyone take me seriously when I say, "Until death do us part"?

On a different level, I find that the process of finding a caterer and a venue and deciding about flowers and a dress is making me sore, like exercising a muscle that I pulled years ago. I get grumpy and distracted from the ache. I get particularly upset when people give me well-meaning advice about logistics. They do it because they love me and want to be helpful but it's like they've poked my bruise. I respond quickly and sharply. Don't they know I've done this before!?!Luckily, I've managed to keep those responses to myself for the most part.

There is also a deep sadness that lives within me a lot of the time now. It feels like mourning but I don't know where the grief is coming from. Is it residual hurt from the divorce? Is it a longing for the innocence and consequent enthusiasm that will not get relived?

I've started seeing my therapist more often to try to heal the wounds and to try, especially, to make sure that I don't displace my frightened anger from its true source (whatever that is) onto Jacob. I have faith that as I work through this, my currently hidden excitement and joy and peace and graciousness will emerge.

I miss them.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Place of Angels

If you live in the western suburbs of Chicago, or if you're willing to drive out there on Monday night, please consider attending Place of Angels, a play written by Bob Adams and produced as a fundraiser for the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans. Bob is a friend of mine and a combat veteran of Vietnam. He came speak to a high school English class that I was teaching several years ago to answer questions for my students who were reading The Things They Carried. His play was first written and produced in the seventies to much acclaim. Actually, I'm assuming acclaim because Bob is pretty freakin' cool. Recently, he founded a shelter and it is the intense passion of his life to take care of soldiers who have not survived war as intact as he has. Of course, Bob's stability has taken years of hard work and much failure but he still considers himself a product of luck and grace so since "there but for the grace of God go I" he used his social work credentials to start making a dent in our nation's shameful homeless veteran problem. The VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and that nearly double that experience homelessness at some point over the course of a year.

So, Monday night, consider spending $50 on a theater ticket to hear the story of Bob's platoon mates and to support Bob's mission to make sure that no one's platoon mates are left behind.

Place of Angels
Monday, March 30 at 7:00
College of DuPage McAninch Arts Center

For more information on the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans, please visit their website.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Washing feet

I was just blessed with the gift of turning the corner at exactly the right moment.

The beloved head of my department is leaving to go work for Arne Duncan in D.C. We had a party for him around lunch time where we cheered and cried and ate good food.

Just now, at 3:30, I turned the corner to see the aforementioned beloved department head digging through the garbage. I called out so that all the administrative assistants whose desks were nearby could hear, "Boss, are they making you clean up after your own party?" in mock indignation.

He looked a little sheepish and complained, "No! I want a piece of cake and they threw it out!" Since the cake he was referring to was from Friday and not from today's party, they all laughed at him as he pulled it out of the trash.

"No really. Where's the plates?"

It was a good moment to be a part of.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Left out

When I started grad school last year, I fell in with a group of friends for the first time in my life. I reveled in always being included, in feeling like I was appreciated and liked as much as I appreciated and liked them. I made me sparkle a little.

We began to drift apart last spring and I'm OK with that. We've gotten together once or twice as a group since then and relived our connectedness but I think we're all OK that we have new groups now.

When one of those friends announced tat he was getting married, he also began to say that he was sad because he was not going to be able to invite many friends since both of their families were so big. Since I know that the pressures of the guest list are intense, I made sure to take a moment and say that I would not be offended if he didn't invite me.

And he didn't.

And I still am not offended.

However, the Facebook status of the other members of the group indicate that they're all in the town where he lives over spring break, which is when he's getting married. There are a couple of other people from school down there as well.

I'm not offended but I'm a little hurt. I guess I didn't expect that he would not invite me for some reason other than finances.

So, I don't know what to do now. I was going to spend a day of my spring break making them a quilt as a wedding present. Now, I'm not so sure.

I'll probably go through with it anyway. I designed and created personalized fabric for them so that money is already spent. I'm planning to make the same kind of quilt for the other people getting married this summer so at least it will be a good practice run.

It stinks that I'm fantasizing just a little that they will feel bad that they didn't invite me when they receive it. I don't like myself when I am confronted with undeniable proof that I am a small human being. I'm like the bad fairy in Sleeping Beauty.

Maybe I'll just keep chanting "forgive, forgive, forgive" while I sew.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Christopher Walken


You need to check out Christopher Walken's Twitter feed.

Now, I do not Twitter. I never intend to Twitter. And I think Twitter is just the littlest bit silly.

However, when one of my blogs (am I the pot or the kettle?) published this update, I wandered over to see what other things he had to say.
"There's a kid on a Pogo stick in front of my house. It's nearly midnight so let's assume he's been drinking. This should end well for him."

Freaking hilarious. I want Christopher Walken for my best friend.
Someone commended me for being "approachable." Okay. The truth is that I'm easily distracted and don't notice people touching me right away.
I've added the RSS feed to my blog reader. Like dialing up to the internet with a rotary phone in terms of anachronism, I think.

OK, one more:
Someone asked where the horses came from in Manhattan. It seemed like an odd question. You could see the bridge clearly from where we were.
It's like someone captured my brother David's holistic comedy in words.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

25 Things About Me

I know that in the past I have written 100 things about me, but I really can't justify that kind of time commitment right now. If you're dying for that much information, check them out here and here.

However, I figure new folks finding this blog should have a chance to get to know the now me. Or, at least, an overview.

1. I live in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. I just recently moved here.
2. I miss my old neighborhood but I think as it warms up, this one might grow on me. It has Asian markets and lots of marginalized folks in strange outfits walking the sidewalks.
3. I am in another (God, how many can there be?) transitional period in my life.
4. I don't actually mind it that much. I fear I will become bored if my life ever looks the same for more than three years.
5. One of my greatest fears is that I will live a quiet life of desperation. I want to live a life less ordinary.
6. Using other people's poetry to describe important things does not bother me.
7. I am getting married in September.
8. That fact terrifies me and feels completely right all at the same time.
9. Jacob is the first man that I've met that I admire utterly and feel like that admiration is reciprocated.
10. I define admiration as both positive regard and the desire and ability to act on the other's behalf.
11. Reading that again, it sounds very clinical but my life experience has taught me that loving someone isn't always paired with respecting them and that being loved doesn't equate to being treated well. Admiration can never exist without respect, love and being treated well and is, therefore, a better indicator of a good partner.
12. I like going swimming at the YMCA in the morning. Umm, endorphins without sweat.
13. I will graduate from graduate school at the University of Chicago in June.
14. I do not yet have a job.
15. Currently, I work part-time at the Chicago Public Schools, working with a team that is changing policies and implementing solutions to plug the holes that kids fall through.
16. This is the ideal job for me and I'm taking steps to retain it but things aren't looking so good.
17. Every day is better that has a little crafting in it.
18. Sometimes I craft words; other days I work on a hand-pieced quilt for my brother and his new wife; sometimes inspiration hits and I make a little random lovely.
19. I spend more time than I would like to admit looking at the blogs of other crafters.
20. I am very active at my church.
21. It was a haven for me in my last transitional period when I was having a spiritual crisis of community: I never doubted God but began to doubt that I would ever find a group of people that wouldn't judge me for the way I engage God.
22. My fiance is very Jewish.
23. I see our interfaith life together as a bright shiny thing that I can't wait to create. We've done a pretty good job so far, I think.
24. I am very close to my family. I have three brothers, two sister-in-law and fabulous parents who stole my dog.
25. I am often overwhelmed by the things that have to get done but my family, Jacob and God all seem to conspire to give me the space I need to process it all. That makes life very good.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Danny Boy

When my younger brother married into a Punjabi family, he attended a gauntlet of family events. At one of them, various Aunties prodded him into singing something, since other people had also entertained the group with music. My brother is a fairly accomplished musician, but says he blanked completely. Could. Not. Think. Of. One. Song. Finally, one came to him: Danny Boy.

Can you picture this scene?

I think only the Muppets could look more ridiculous than my tall, skinny, white, tattooed brother singing an Irish lament to his Indian in-laws, including some who don't speak much English at all.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twas brillig

Yesterday, I made a mix CD for Jacob entitled, "My journey, shared now" but when I got home, he was listening to it on shuffle.

However, as we watched Alice in Wonderland, it turns out that both of us have the poem, Jabberwocky, memorized.

A good juxtaposition of our differences and very strange similarities.

Monday, March 09, 2009

More boring academic stuff

Another paper for my class.
Thorstein Veblen asserts that our current society is not really different from barbaric societies. He states that in order to maintain a temporary advantage, such as the ability to hunt in a pre-agrarian society, people will codify this behavior as superior and declare other forms of labor inferior, even though the other forms of labor might contribute more to the survival of the community. He goes on to show that people of the inferior class will seek to emulate their “betters” to gain status, even when that effort will undermine seemingly more important goals, such as physical survival or financial security. In class, we have discussed many inequities of our society, including the need of black women to process their hair to be successful. These inequities are predicted by Veblen’s model.

Genetically, the hair of people of African descent is tightly curled and coarse. European hair tends to be more pliable. Cultures of both people have developed unique ways of styling their hair that reflects the physical properties of the hair itself. White women choose large braids, large curls and simply letting their hair swing loose. Black women have found that small braids, dreadlocks and “afros” are the most flattering styles for their hair. However, in the mid-nineteenth century in America, black women began employing the use of hot combs and chemicals to break down the coarseness of their hair. The first female millionaire in America went by the name of Madame C.J. Walker and made her fortune selling hair care products to black women. This trend has developed into a major industry, with popular black hairstyles including human hair (most often from southeast Asian women) being woven into their own hair and increasingly sophisticated chemicals for perming or straightening hair. These hair-altering phenomena have been explained as black women attempting to look more like white women. Veblen would call this emulation.

Veblen’s economic model states that ruling classes distinguish themselves through conspicuous consumption and conspicuous waste. In essence, they signal that they have enough wealth to afford unnecessary things. This level of financial security is equated with being better than other people. Veblen’s model also predicts that out of a desire to have what members of the leisure class have, lower class people will emulate the signals that the members of the leisure class signal. This seems to hold true even when it is extended to inadvertent signals.

Inadvertent signals are those that are correlated to the conspicuous consumption and waste signals but are not either. In this instance, hair type is an inadvertent signal because for most white women, pliable hair does not take much effort. However, because almost all members of the leisure class in American society have historically been white, pliable hair becomes associated with that class. (This description ignores the conspicuous consumption of many white women that comes in the form of expensive salon treatments.) Veblen would claim that that dominance of beauty salons in black neighborhoods was a rational behavior, given the institution of racism that our society has developed within. He would say that black women were emulating white women, since race in America is so often correlated with class.

Black hair is a highly personal and highly political subject because of this. Black people must choose between visually belonging to their traditional culture and visually belonging to the dominant paradigm, which is usually problematic because black hair often resists complete transformation. During the black pride movement of the late 70s, the afro became popular again and cornrows briefly became popular even for white women, as shown by Bo Derek in the movie 10. As an extension of this, dreadlocks have become more and more prevalent amongst women of color and have become popular with white youth, which prompted Jessica Young, adjunct faculty at Columbia College to write, “My hair does this because this is what it does. I can’t sacrifice that to some tow-headed, apple-cheeked cheerleader from Davenport, Iowa, who saw a rerun of Lenny Kravitz: Behind the Music and wants ‘hair like his, all hip and earthy.’ Locks are tied to a racial, religious and cultural tradition. You can’t just dive into that because it’s cool. Locks are mine, and I don’t want to share.” Professor Young imbues distinctly black hairstyles with value as a response to a history of emulation because that emulation itself tacitly agreed with the opinion of the white leisure class: that it is not a good thing to be black. In fact, it is common for black people who are born with naturally pliant hair to be described as having “good hair,” which reinforces the belief that black hair is bad hair.

Given this “truth” that to be white is better than to be black, what explains the rare emulation of black hair by white people and the increasing embrace of natural hair by black people themselves? Counter-signaling is one plausible answer. Counter-signaling occurs as the mean moves far enough in one direction (in this case toward white hair) and outliers discover that gains can be made by deviating sharply in the other direction. An expensive design firm locating its offices in the middle of the ghetto and a professor presenting his paper while wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap are examples of this. The website is written by white people pretending to be people of color who are writing about the cultural habits of white people as an instruction manual for people of color for how to manipulate white people by pretending to emulate them. Articles such as “#28 Not Having A TV,” “#78 Multilingual Children” and “#107 Self Aware Hip Hop References,” satirize dominant culture in a way that has won the site international acclaim.

Another explanation involves the audience of the signals. It is possible that people who choose naturally black hairstyles have decided it is more important to signal fidelity to their community or themselves than to signal conformity to the standards set by the leisure class. This outcome is also predicted by Veblen. He writes: “The grounds of discrimination, and the norm of procedure in classifying the facts . . . progressively change as the growth of culture proceeds . . . So that what are recognised as the salient and decisive features of a class of activities or of a social class at one stage of culture will not retain the same relative importance for the purposes of classification at any subsequent stage.” As the physical characteristics of the leisure class change, so will the inadvertent signals working class people feel they need to emulate.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The good thing about weddings

One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was to keep our engagement to ourselves for a couple of weeks. Jacob and I had complete space and freedom to enjoy the exhilarating terror and satisfaction we were feeling at taking this step. We'd look at each other across the room just while making dinner or reading books and say, "Are we really going to do this?" and got to delight in the affirmative response.

It was good to be free of the pressures of logistics about the event and to simply revel in our relationship.

But what was also good was telling my friends. I have some women in my life who have stuck with me through some shit. Some of them for more than a decade. These are women who see the world the same way that I do. At least, as some facet of me does. It continually astounds me at how different they all are from each other. It's not a gaggle of girlfriends. These are women that sit down and talk with me while we watch their children. These are women that travel long distances to attend events with me and for whom I travel long distances to see their new homes.

Telling these friends about my engagement and consequently the new story I envision for my life was pretty much just like talking to myself. They asked me the questions I wanted to be asked and said the things I needed someone to say. The conversations were a re-affirmation of how special I feel that these women make time and space for me to be utterly myself and utterly welcome in their lives. All the good parts and all the bad parts. These women have been affected by all my parts and love me anyway.

When I called my friend Susan, who is the reason I did not transfer colleges after Freshman year, we talked and giggled and shared gory details. I told her the story of how Jacob proposed and bemoaned the fact that the ring he had ordered had not yet arrived. Then, she made me cry.

She said in a somewhat gruff-but-positive high-school-coach voice, "Hey, nice job getting a ring this time."

This is what truly good girlfriends do.

They can mock you for pain in your past while pointing out how necessary that pain was for you feel as good as you do now. As if it were my fault that my ex-husband didn't value me very much. She was congratulating me for getting over being such a dumbass. I heard nothing but love in all of that.

You see, my ex-husband and I decided that we needed a new car for him more than we needed a shiny rock. It seemed like a totally reasonable and responsible decision at the time. I wasn't falling for any Wedding Industry claptrap.

But when I was at dinner eating pizza with Lorinda a few weeks ago talking about that same claptrap, I began to cry again. We were talking about how silly diamonds are but hearing those same arguments again brought up all the pain of my first marriage, especially feeling worthless, even if I still believe all the same things. She reached across the table and put her hand on my left hand with the ring and said, "But symbols are important."

I am surprised by how much my first marriage affects and informs this process with Jacob. I guess it makes sense. I've been in therapy for seven years and our process is basically to find healing for the things that come boiling to the surface because of the events that happen to me. Of course there must be some wedding things I haven't dealt with since I haven't had a wedding since that last one I had ten years ago.

I wish that for Jacob's sake it didn't have to be like this. That it could be all about he and me and the relationship we have. But the reality is that I am not the me I bring to the relationship without the relationships that I've been in previously.

I have known Lorinda since we were 11 years old in the Talented and Gifted program in junior high. She consoled me in the 6th grade when I didn't get a part in Teen: a Pop Rock Musical by telling me that being on the set construction crew was more fun, anyway. she said in the middle of Lou Malnati's, apropos of nothing, that she was so grateful for all of the emotional risks that I took it keeping myself open to dating since the divorce because she could now enjoy seeing me so happy.

Both she and Susan said the things that I had been thinking to myself. I am valuable enough to be invested in with a ring (especially since he knew me well enough to get a lab diamond and recycled gold so that no one would die for our love). I should be congratulated for taking good risks that paid off.

The validation that my friends provided to me had the unexpected benefit of reminding me that the past predicts the future. I will always have them because I have always had them. I don't have to point out the significance of the things that happen to me because they were there the first time and since they have the same information I do, can come to the same conclusion. Don't we all just want to be known?

I am known.

This is the good thing about weddings.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I did not win.

Tonight Jacob came home to find a present wrapped in orange paper with a purple curly ribbon (yay for scissor curls!). That was the most obnoxious color combination that I could choose.

Since I was in the neighborhood with the new locally owned games store, I stopped by on a whim. Jacob and I play Fluxx a lot but are frustrated because Settlers of Catan can't be played by only two people. So, I had a long conversation with Peter and finally came up with Dungeon Twister.

Now, I know what you're thinking. But you're a dirty dirty girl for thinking things like that and you should probably just go sit in the corner quietly by yourself for a little while for going down that visual path.

I rejected several games that Peter offered me because I didn't like the story behind them. I'm not interested in saving the world from a pandemic disease or in building a balanced and successful farm.

Let's face it, I like killing bulgy monsters in elaborate mossy basements. See here if you need proof. So, I asked Peter for a Settlers of Catan-style strategy game for two players and when he offered me one that played out a Dungeons and Dragons plot, I handed over $30 with no further questions. Then I had him wrap it for my sweetie.

We've played it once so far and although we got at least one rule wrong for most of the game, loved it and will probably play it every night for awhile.

Life is good.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sometimes I do OK

I wrote this for one of my classes a couple of weeks ago. I'm not sure I actually believe the ideas that I'm putting forth but it made for a good paper.

I got an A.

Tribalism seems to be a fact of human nature. Research such as the Dollar Game shows again and again that folks trust their own type more than other types. This would not be a problem, except that lack of exposure to other types causes ignorance and ignorance causes unfair discrimination. Since types are often determined by visual cues such as race, systemic unfair discrimination is especially intense for members of traditionally oppressed races. Given that our society is not starting from scratch in terms of power and capital, determining the correct policy solutions to the systemic racial unfairness that exists is of paramount importance.

Glenn Loury suggests that the state should be fostering cross-group intimate interaction on the premise that preferences are derivative of experience. If we can force people to abandon their own type in social settings, we can shift their preferences toward fairness in other settings, such as the marketplace. Brown v. Board of Ed. of Topeka, Kansas and Affirmative Action programs share this underlying belief. However, Roland G. Fryer, Jr. and Paul Torelli have shown that for many minority students, success in social settings and market settings might be mutually exclusive if academic success if viewed as a proxy for ultimate market success. Fryer and Torelli call this a “two-audience signaling quandary: signals that beget labor market success are signals that induce peer rejection.” This indicates that cross-group intimate interaction will not benefit academically successful minority students individually, since they do not have as much intimate interaction to begin with. This trade-off is particularly alarming since sociological research has shown that success in life is also reliant upon social capital, which comes from having a large, stable community with contacts that have access to resources. A policy solution must be found that allows minority students to succeed in school while also building a community of contacts that provide experiences with other types, as well as access to resources. I believe that policy solution will involve integrated neighborhoods with the option of segregated schools.

In Roland G. Fryer, Jr. and Paul Torelli’s paper “An Empirical Analysis of ‘Acting White’,” they use the unique structure of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to study the correlation of popularity to success in school. Their major finding in that a large racial gap exists. White students have an entirely upward slope when GPAs are regressed on a popularity index while black and latino students suffer a drop-off of popularity when their grades rise higher than average. It is important to remember that the results can also be read that less popular minority students get better grades than their more popular racial counterparts: causality has not been established.

Interestingly, the study also finds that minority students in private schools and segregated schools do not experience this gap as much as public school students in integrated schools.
In fact, in predominantly black schools, popularity and academic success are positively correlated, paralleling results of white students in all schools. While it is plausible to cite selection bias for the private school students, students in public, segregated schools are overwhelmingly in that situation as a result of ghettoization. These schools usually have fewer resources and are found in high-crime, high-poverty areas. Yet, minority students who do well in these schools are also popular, unlike minority students in schools that reflect national racial demographics, where only unpopular students are successful.

How do we reconcile Fryer and Torelli’s finding that segregated educational environments house students with more balanced lives with the assertion of Loury and others that the path to equality runs through integration? We must reform our current system to incentivize integrated neighborhoods while giving students and their families the option of segregated schooling.

There is precedent for segregated education. Recent decades have allowed for gender segregation in modern schools: the Chicago Public Schools have the Young Women’s Leadership Charter High School and the Urban Prep Charter Academy for Young Men. These schools’ selective populations are based on similar research that shows that students often do better when grouped according to the accident of their birth with regards to gender. Recently, CPS considered a school that would create safe spaces for GLTBQ youth to learn. As long as precautions are taken that the no stigma be attached to attending these schools and that resources available to them were equal to other schools in the district, there is reason to believe that such schools would offer real benefit to minority students who want to do well in school while remaining popular. CPS has been moving toward a system of student choice for all of its high schools for years on the premise that different students need different environments. Adding racially safe schools to the strategy should not be that much of a stretch.

However, if the school district is no longer being used to forward society’s goals to eradicate prejudice, this end must be achieved another way. If we institute tax incentives or lump sum transfers for people to live in integrated areas, this might be achieved. An integrated area might be defined as one in which no race is represented by more than 50% of families. Rather than a centralized solution that attempts to manipulate or control citizen’s choices regarding housing, financial incentives continue to allow market forces to function. Zones that would receive these rewards would begin receiving rewards once the optimal levels of integration has been reached or may receive intermediate rewards for movement in the right direction. By defining zones using integration levels rather than by targeting certain areas and making them more appealing to white buyers and renters, policy-makers avoid reinforcing the current perceived hierarchical valuation of the races. Decisions are made for financial rather than altruistic reasons. It is very likely that the struggles of communities that attempt to integrate economic classes might be avoided completely if families are encouraged to sort by race while staying within economic brackets.

Once neighborhoods become integrated, children of all races have access to increased social capital that both minority and white families can contribute to. In his paper, “The Neighborhood Context of Investing in Children: Facilitating Mechanisms and Undermining Risks” (2000), Robert J. Sampson writes that social capital is created “when the structure of relations between persons that facilitates action make possible the achievement of certain ends that in its absence would not be possible.” The variety of experiences, knowledge and connections that families of all colors bring to a community can only increase the chances of children to succeed. The generations of citizens that come out of these neighborhoods will be that much closer to Glenn Loury’s vision of preferences that do not oppress any genetically or culturally distinct group, which will render the original findings of the Dollar Game research obsolete.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Planning a wedding kind of sucks.

We've created a list of what I think are fairly reasonable, flexible requirements:
Not winter
Sunday of a holiday weekend
Less than a year engagement
Afternoon event with appetizers, desserts and champagne
Accessible by public transportation

Really, that's it.

But every option we find that fits all of these requirements will either cost double the very generous budget that we've set for ourselves or will require a lot of elbow grease on the part of our family and friends on the day of the wedding.

Neither of those options is acceptable to me. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of a DIY wedding: full of community and barn-raising good cheer. But community building is hard. And I just don't want to coordinate it.

I just want to promise some things to this man that I love in front of the people that love me and then celebrate a little. By all accounts, marriage is hard. Why can't the wedding be simple and easy without the food costing $18,000 dollars?

I get that figure from a small article in Chicago Magazine this morning that described a first-person account of a wedding that sounded exactly like what I envision our wedding will be like, including interfaith dietary needs and some of the venues we have considered. This was in the first 3 paragraphs. Then, she started throwing around the cost of a couple quarters of grad school around as a "steal" for appetizers and a non-traditional cake (savings of $750) and I began to despair.

I absolutely know that perseverance and creativity will overcome this particular adversity but DAMN GINA, can one little wedding really be this hard to sort out?

I have spent seven years cultivating a balance and a peace that relies upon looking at my life and asking myself deeply, "Is this hard work exciting enough to keep it from being a chore?" It's a question that kept me from going to grad school before I was ready, that allowed me to move to an island for healing, that kept me from staying too long on that island, that allowed me to say "yes" when Jacob asked me to do the hard work of considering his needs in all of the rest of my decisions.

All of the options we have found so far have seemed exhausting. One venue would require wrapping every available railing in tulle and lights to counteract the dark red carpeting or to pay a professional "fabric and lights" designer to make it look like a high school prom. Another has a $15,000 food minimum. A third sounds great when a friend who works there described it but has a full voice mail box and won't respond to my emails.

Oh, and I lost my phone.

And I moved last Tuesday and all my stuff is still in boxes piled around me.

And finals are in two weeks.

It's possible that everything else in my life is a chore, which affects my ability to discern my available energy for this whole wedding thing.

Jacob and I continue to spend our days giggling on the couch so I guess that until that is affected, I can keep going.

But planning a wedding still kind of sucks.